An update to the progress of the EMUs was given to the transport committee yesterday and it provides quite a few new pictures of what we will eventually get (although the final colours are still to be decided. Just to give a quick recap the contract with Spanish company Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF) was signed in October last year for 57 EMUs along with a 12 year maintenance contract for them. We were also lucky in that we have been able to get 50% more EMUs than originally planned which means there will be enough to run them on all lines (previous plans had envisioned us buying or leasing some electric locomotives for use with some of the existing SA/SD carriages). The first trains is expected to arrive mid to late next year with the first one in service by the end of 2013 although my guess is that we won’t really see it in operation till 2014.

Just as a reminder this is the image we were shown last year when the contract was signed.

And here’s how they look now:

Artist’s impression of electric train in Britomart station. NB: exterior colours are still to be confirmed.

The designs have clearly been refined and improved upon and while I’m not 100% sold on the light blue, I think that in general these trains look great and they will be something the city be really proud about when they finally turn up. I can say that I’m really looking forward to the day the first turn up at my platform. Each EMU will have two motor cars, one at each end and in the middle will be a trailer car that will have a low floor section to allow for level boarding.

Here are some ideas about what the interior might look like:

And some diagrams that give an idea about what the seating layout will be:

And the low floor section which will have dedicated sections for wheelchairs and bikes:

A few other interesting things I have learnt is that the seats will all be cantilevered off the wall which will help to give extra space underneath them to store things. The seats are also a modular design so can be easily changed around if ever needed e.g. say we wanted to create more space we could turn around the seats to a metro style layout. It is probably worth pointing out that at this stage there hasn’t been a formal policy around bikes on trains at peak times but I’m pretty sure AT will work with cycling groups to come up with one.

The timeline for the project is similar to what we have seen in the past and the next key phase is Mock Up 3. As part of the design process CAF is building a series of mock ups so AT can ensure that things work as expected. The first mock up was in December and consisted of detailed CAD drawings, the second was a mock up of the drivers cab that arrived in February and featured in a Herald article. The third is probably the most interesting of the lot from a public perspective as it will be a life sized mock up of a section of the train that will incorporate that as many features as they can fit in and I believe that other than the cab it will have both a high and low floor section. The mock up will arrive in June and AT have said that it will go on public display somewhere so that people can get a look and try it out themselves. As you can see by the image below, things appear to be pretty far along

You can watch a video of the presentation, which includes a fly through of the low floor section here

Share this


  1. I like the exterior colours but inside it is such a let down. Why is the passengers comfort not top priority when designing the interior?

    1. It looks fine to me. The problem is that generally more comfortable seats take more room. This decreases capacity. Try being on the metal seat of a New York subway car for an hour or squashed into a tiny Japanese sized seat in Tokyo for discomfort.

  2. Least they could added the Yellow Safety Line on Platform Three in that render shot 😛

    But that is me being picky

    As Josh said in twitter #drool 😀
    (oh and as I was writing this another DL – Metro Port freighter tore on by – why the heck could we not get quite freight locos 😛 )

  3. They are just asking for trouble with that high headlight behind a window.

    The ADLs had that initially but the polycarbonate covers got dirty/yellowed and were removed fairly quickly. The units look unfinished as a result.

    (At least I assume it’s going to be a headlight. In the Britomart rendering it looks more like a skylight for the LE. Or could be a front looking camera for the seatback entertainment system…)

    1. Actually the most of the images (and some others) were sent to me directly from AT. I have been talking to them about it for a while.

  4. The original livery and lights looked much better. The current livery is terrible.

    But I love the interiors, an very nice design.

      1. Yes there is something seemingly too similar to Melborune’s Metlink livery.

        Why oh why do the powers that be in NZ feel they have to copy Australia? especially when they’re pretty far from the most tasteful and stylish country…

  5. While the cantilevered seats will certainly provide plenty of storage room (handy for that airport line eh!), I should point out the main purpose of that is to make cleaning the trains much easier. That’s all good, anything that reduces maintenance costs is a good thing.

    Great to see a metro style layout in the central car, good for when things get busy and for people making short trips around town and the isthmus. I think we’re underestimating just how metro-like the network will become, at least in the central areas.

    Bikes on trains are an interesting condundrum. It’s something that works brilliantly if a few people do it, but it completely falls apart if it becomes popular. I’m not sure if an actual policy around bikes on peak trains is really needed, in Melbourne at least the unwritten code of “don’t take your bike on a crowded train” seems to work fine. The only time it falls apart is on Saturdays when many cyclists use trains to get around to good riding spots, but there are heaps of shoppers and the like on board too.

    I used to take my bike on a peak hour train as part of my 9-5 commute, but this was a trip from an inner suburb to an outer suburb in the counter-peak direction. A simple “no bikes at peak times” rule would have prevented me from doing that, even though those trains never had more than half the seats full.

    1. Someone (you?) pointed out that having sharp internal corners makes cleaning much harder, cantilevered seats or no. Those pictures, although very indistinct, still look as you there’s a 90-degree intersection of vertical wall and horizontal floor.

    2. I’d rather see no bikes on trains. Surely if there were bike cages near all stations then that would cut down on needing to have bikes on trains?

      I understand in Japan you have to take your wheel off and put the whole bike in a bag. Presumably so people don’t get chain grease on them. Probably aren’t allowed to take them peak times either.

  6. Glad to see they’ve shifted the design of the seat-back grab handles from side to top. That original design was very WTF.

    1. I had a big rant to them about side handles narrowing the effective width of the aisles and ciculation space and presenting a snag hazard for bags and bikes. Good to see they’ve addressed that.

      1. They’re also hard to grab, requiring that you invert your hand from its natural position and increasing the risk of wrist injuries if people are subjected to sudden jerking.

        1. Indeed, I did make a comment about radial wrist deviation under load being a major risk for strain injuries (in my former career I was an ergonomist, so I’m especially interested in the ergonomics of transit vehicles)


    The image where the bikes are demonstrate design by non-bikers. To put the bikes in as shown in the diagram requires a bit of maneuvering and backwards/forwards movements to angle the bike in.

    It would be FAR SIMPLER AND EASIER to have a dedicated section with hooks on the wall that you just hook your bike onto. Simple. I just wheel my bike in and bring it to vertical, and hook onto the wall after taking my pannier off. Easy. No need for maneuvering or doing a complicated dance with my bike to get it parallel to the wall.

    But such thinking is far too complicated for Auckland Transport designers.

    1. I disagree, I think it would be much harder and more awkward to empty the carrier on my bike, take the bag off then lift it 90 degrees up in the air onto a hook. I’d much prefer just to wheel the thing on and leave it on it’s wheels.

      I think getting a bike hanging on a hook is more of a complicated dance than just walking it on and leaning it against the side.

      1. The hook vs horizontal discussion was a very difficult (though not antagonistic) discussion, because there simply is no magic bullet. Hooks are hated by many people – we had a bit of canvassing of friends and members – as they are much harder to lift bikes into, and because they cause, (comparatively speaking) a lot more injuries and bike damage (just think what happens if you are just lifting your bike up while the train jerks while starting or stopping).

        Further, the extra storage space they provide is actually minimal, because our trains will be too narrow to allow them to be hung at 90-degree angles to the walls. They would simply encroach on the through aisle too much.

        So in the end, the high-level decision was made to use horizontal storage. We were very keen to have a storage space that one can push bikes into from near the doors, but the internal partitions and the handrails (which could not be removed or lifted high enough to get under a partial “hanging” handrail) prevented that. So we end up with this one. Be sure that both we and the train designers have looked at many train systems worldwide, and nobody has yet found a perfect solution, especially in a situation like a suburban commuter train where space is at a premium for competing uses.

        Max Robitzsch
        Cycle Action Auckland

        PS: They noted to us that the big mock-up that people will be allowed to check out middle of the year will be a bit of a hybrid model, as it will combine both motor-car and centre car features in one much shorter example model.

  8. I’d like to see more rooftop handles. These effectively increase the capacity of the train. It’s essential to build in sufficient strength and attachment points so that modular bars and handholds can be installed as necessary. My experience of Australian trains is that with low numbers people (understandably) stay near solid points, and don’t make their way to the middle of the carriage. You waste about 20-30% of the capacity of the train, for want of a simple alteration.

    While I really do like the white interior, which is so much prettier than most trains I’ve been on, I worry that it’s not a practical colour to keep clean. I also hope they install surfaces that resist tagging and scratching.

    1. Good point, I was standing up on a crowded Matangi in Wellington the other day. No roof handles at all, so I had to hold onto the edge of the luggage rack, which was really uncomfortable for my hand and I had to keep on shifting it. – Not very practical! You can’t always use the top of seat handles as theyre close to people’s heads, and I tend to use them most as a support while disembarking on a slowing train.

  9. Noise reduction has been listed as a benefit, but where are the facts and figures on expected decibel levels under acceleration, load, braking, speed, etc? Hopefully the supply contract specifies the highest international standards that will support our 21st century liveable city expectations.

    While the EMUs have surely got to be quieter than the old diesels it would be good to have some assurances.

    The issue surfaced last week in Wellington and I’d guess noise and vibration levels were not a factor in the recent procurement of locomotives from China.

  10. The issue in Wellington (Johnsonville line only) is about squealing (very sharp curves) and also about horn noise.

    The first is not really relevant in Auckland and the second (if a problem) is easily fixable.

    I don’t think anyone has complained about noise from the Chinese assembled DLs. And as for the horns, they seem to have sourced surplus VW Beetle horns along with the MTU powerplants from Germany…

  11. A couple of questions?

    1. Why the no-step carriage in the middle of the train? Can we not raise the platforms to make all carriages no-step?

    2. Does anyone know if it is possible to add additional middle carriages in the future? I understand these are walk-through trains so not expecting that it could be done quickly, but is it an option for future capacity growth?

    1. In answering question 1, I thank the blog author for linking to the Franklin Live video of the Auckland Council Transport Cmmttee meeting (which I viewed) where a similar question was raised.

      The answer: the no step part is in the middle of the carriage because there is nothing underneath to worry about, but at each end of the carriage, there are bogies (sets of wheels) so the floor needs to be raised to accomodate them.

      In answering question 2: Again, a similar question was asked by a Councillor, and the answer is that there is a weight to power ratio (don’t ask me), and putting in another carriage in the middle upsets the ratio and leads to difficulties. It is possible to put another carriage in, but with difficulty.

      What the answer from AT did not state is that with electrification you would get 6 min frequencies.

    2. The floor thing is a bit of an annoyance. The platforms have to be kept low to give clearance to freight wagons using the track, but that makes them too low to have a level floors throughout. So level floors in the centre ‘trailer’ carriage, and steps in the power cars.

      There isn’t much point in adding a fourth car per set. Once you’ve coupled two three-car sets together you get a train as long as our platforms can support anyway.

      1. Never been entirely convinced by the excuses given about platform heights – they only mean that there can’t be higher platfroms at the same distance from the track as the current ones. Don’t see why there couldn’t have been higher ones set back further with wider EMUs (same width as the problematic wagons). Suspect that it has a lot more to do with the finest NZ traditions of doing it on the cheap – avoided rebuilding every single platform on the future electric network and modifying all the existing carriages with wider steps to bridge the gap in the meantime.

    3. On question 2, the train will have to be powerful enough to get up the CRL when it is built, adding an extra carriage in the middle would impact its ability to do so.

      Also Christopher – post electrification the frequencies are meant to be on average one train every 10m on the main lines and every 30m on the Onehunga line. The new signalling system that is already installed across most of the network (just a bit down south to go) is actually capable of handling at least 4 minute frequencies so has plenty of capacity when once the CRL is built

  12. On my wishlist would be having a ring of LEDs around the doorways that start flashing quicker and quicker to indicate how long until the doors close. Similar idea to the pedestrian crossings the count the time down until the lights change to green. So that you know whether to run to get the train or it will be too late anyway.

  13. I do not find trains sexy.

    Except this train.

    The peeps will love it…

    I see Scarlet and Gold.

    I see the scarlet/crimson of the old trams, and gold standing in for the legendary old yellow buses.

    1. I was told by an AT engineer working on the project that two per side was the most we could have due to having some platforms on curves, having more than two doors per side would lead to unacceptable distances between the train and platform at some stations so they have gone for two doors and made them as big as they possibly can (they will be wider than what we have now)

  14. This is something I’ve wondering for a while: why is it that public transport seats are never a plain colour? They always have designs on them, like in these photos. I’ve always assumed its something to do with visibility of stains. But you’re all very knowledgeable about these things, so could so one please clear this up for me? 😀

  15. Big red flag people – no overhead luggage racks. These are definitely needed. Putting bags under the seats is a dumb idea. What wants their bag made dirty by putting it on the floor?! People will go shopping using the train so you have to have overhead luggage racks. Its stupid that no busses in Auckland have overhead luggage racks. There is plenty of room in the roof area of these trains for luggage racks and the same goes for the buses.

    Also, there are no strap hangers from the roof central area of this proposed train interior. The trains will become full of passengers at peak time so you need straps to grab onto in the central upper area of each carriage.

  16. Interior layout looks Matangi inspired, particularly the low floor area. Big improvement over the previous concept images that showed the carriages packed with as much transverse seating as possible at the expense of circulating and standing space.

    Colour – not an fan of the light blue, would prefer the darker colour used in the old render. Also, IMO, yellow doors should be used the low floor centre carriage (rather the the end carriages) to highlight where the wheelchair accessible spaces are.

    Cycles – space provided looks very tight, are three fold down seats enough? Equivalent area in the Matangi units is five seats.

Leave a Reply